Helper-Ferris Editorial Agency  
Developmental Editing
How it works
About Laura Helper-Ferris, Ph.D.

he helpful Canadians have a standard definition of developmental editing: "co-ordinating and editing a project from proposal or rough manuscript to final manuscript, incorporating input from authors, consultants, or reviewers." In other words, a developmental editor works closely with an author to shape a manuscript into a book. In performing this work, I offer other levels of attention: substantive or structural editing ("clarifying or reorganizing a manuscript for content and structure") and stylistic editing ("clarifying meaning, eliminating jargon, polishing language, and other non-mechanical line-by-line editing.") (Thanks to the Editors' Association of Canada/Association canadienne des réviseurs for the quotes.)

reelance developmental editors address a growing gap in the publishing process. Even in university press publishing, authors get limited editorial guidance from publishers, who increasingly must demand polished manuscripts up front from prospective authors. The university press review process does generate reader reports, with comments and general guidelines for revisions. Much later, in-house copyeditors do edit revised manuscripts for grammar and consistency. But between these two stages often lies a long, difficult period of revision and restructuring for which presses can offer little help. Junior scholars in addition face the daunting task of transforming dissertations into books, often under job conditions of great stress. Enter the developmental editor, often recommended by a colleague or an acquisitions editor.

will work with manuscripts at any stage of development: proposed, drafted, before press submission, after reader reports, or after revisions. Unvarnished dissertations are welcome.

will work on a wide range of serious non-fiction. My specialty is in scholarly work, particularly in the fields of my expertise: cultural anthropology and ethnography, American history and culture, urban history, cultural studies, and twentieth century American and British popular music. I am also well versed in British history and culture, particularly of the Victorian, Elizabethan, and modern eras; and in biography, autobiography, and memoir. Thematically, my training and my interests cover issues of everyday life, gender, narrative, and agency.